Yes, there are upscale eateries in L.A. that duplicate the best that Mexico City and Guadalajara have to offer. Part of the fun, though, is seeking out those hole-in-the-wall establishments where you might unwittingly discover the perfect carne asada burrito or mole sauce. In this article, we recommend our favorite Mexican establishments that will instantly transport you South of the Border, because it’s all about the restaurants, Los Angeles.
We begin with Mercado, on West 3rd Street. It appears slick and contemporary, but this establishment is still best known for its comfort food, its bracing Margaritas, and its more than seventy available tequilas. You’ll most likely find a younger crowd here, and they’re probably already hip to the best strategy: getting several smaller plates for the group to share. Some of the better selections are Camarones al ajillo, sauteed shrimp with chile de Arbol garlic butter, and the tacos de Tinga al Pollo, pulled free-range chicken with chipotle, black beans, and avocado.
Next, we head east, to Guisados, on East Cesar Chavez Avenue. Simplicity is key here, as this is a no-frills spot that’s all about cooking up some down-home Mexican grub that’s good enough to make you think about expatriating. They make their tortillas in-house and pack them full of mouthwatering slow-braised meats. Chicken, beef, and pork are all on offer, but the vegetarian options are equally enticing, especially the calabacitas and the frijol con queso. This is the perfect place to go after a night of drinking and dancing, to soak up some of those adult beverages.
Our final selection is El Coyote Cafe, on Beverly Boulevard. This is another option where you won’t have to break the bank to enjoy some authentic Mexican flavors, and the Christmas lights adorning the ceiling will have you feeling festive even if it’s nowhere close to the holiday season. Start with the combo sampler, featuring a quesadilla, rolled taco, and three poppers, alongside guacamole and sour cream. The albondigas soup gets a bonus mention, and for a main, try the chicken and rice, which sounds deceptively simple. It’s an overloaded plate of tender stewed chicken accompanied by delicately seasoned Mexican rice and salad.
If you’re not hungry yet, Los Angeles visitors, then check your pulse. With so much tastiness to choose from, you might need to extend your vacation a couple of extra days.